Religious ‘freedom’ bill rewards, encourages bullying

Religious ‘freedom’ bill rewards, encourages bullying

By Ryan D. Wilson News Editor | 

The “religious freedom” bill passed by the Kansas House still has both sides up in arms, even though it’s dead in the water.

Gays and lesbians say the bill is a thinly-veiled attempt to discriminate against them while some Christians say it guarantees they won’t have to participate in a gay wedding should the courts overturn the state’s gay marriage ban.

At first I thought this bill did not matter. People who want to discriminate will find a way to do so regardless of the law. And those who don’t want to be part of a gay wedding don’t have to try hard to stay out of one.

Some Christians supporting this bill even claim the national outcry against it amounts to discrimination against them. Opposition and comments on how deplorable it is, isn’t discrimination, even if you really aren’t a bigot.

Some live in fear of lawsuits, fines and penalties for refusing serve gays or lesbians.

Gays and lesbians, however, are not concerned about money. They’re worried about their physical safety. And they have reason to be.

When I was in the eighth-grade, a couple of boys slammed me against a locker and hit me after calling me a fag during a wrestling meet here in the CCCHS gym. I experienced a lot of things like this in high school. Often I was lucky to outrun my tormentors, get away with just bruises, cuts and scrapes; or they just called me names or took my things.

When I went to trusted adults, they said disparaging things such as “you need to toughen up,” or “it’s just boys being boys.” Adults were part of the problem.

I still see this every now and then. It doesn’t get any easier. I still bear the scars.

The bullying was bad, but worse was living daily with the relentless threat. Unless you’ve experienced it, I can’t fully convey what it’s like.

Gays and lesbians know that a law that encourages excluding them will only expand the mindless divide between them and everyone else. More people would see beating up gays as more acceptable, if not justified, not less.

What Christians gain from such “religious freedom” is bought at the expense of others less fortunate. I don’t know of any young people who live in daily fear of being beaten for being Christian in Kansas.

When Holocaust survivor Eva Acher visited CCCHS, she described how quickly things changed after the anti-Jew Nuremberg laws passed. She was a young girl, but she recalls her public school friends suddenly began spitting on her and calling her ‘a dirty Jew.’

When a government targets a vulnerable minority, it opens the door to much more terrible things. Don’t think the Holocaust can’t happen here. It’s something we must guard against.

–Ryan D. Wilson

http://www.ccenterdispatch.com/opinion/article_c7dc044a-a497-11e3-84f5-001a4bcf6878.html